We recently commissioned a survey at 1-800-DENTIST to probe into how dental consumers think. This wasn’t done on 1-800-DENTIST callers, but rather surveyed a broad selection of consumers nationwide, and we think it reflects fairly accurately the current thinking on dentistry. I am doing a webinar on this next Wednesday, May 22nd, open to anyone, and there will also be a white paper available going into detail on the survey results and recommendations, but I wanted to give you some highlights here.
Here’s a big one: 93% said a clear explanation of what is required versus what is optional was a major factor in whether they would return to a dentist or not. This comes down to effective communication with a new patient. Remember that they are anxious about the cost and the discomfort of dentistry, which means their cognitive skills are somewhat impaired, so be clear, listen closely to their responses, and be very specific about what needs to be done in that visit and what is involved in more comprehensive care. If they are not ready to hear about long-term issues, hold off until their next visit.
Tied directly to this is that 33% of consumers think dentists are trying to sell them unnecessary services. Again, poor communication, and perhaps poor timing, are the issues here. Be mindful of that when talking to new patients, and really all your patients. There is critical and non-critical care, and you should explicitly explain the difference. And if you are truly offering optional treatments like Invisalign, whitening or veneers, probe to see if they have a real interest in those treatments before trying to persuade them to do them.
70% say their choice is influenced by online reviews. This is a radical change in consumer behavior, and reinforces my previous blog on the subject.
One more key bit of data: 73% of new patients want immediate availability of an appointment. I say this all the time–get new patients in within 24-48 and you vastly reduce the risk of no-shows. This response from consumers tells you that they are moving on to the next dentist if you can’t get them in right away, even if it’s not an emergency.
In the webinar I’ll discuss the number one and two reasons why people are looking for a new dentist, and several other tasty morsels. It’s Wednesday, May 22nd, 11am PST, and you can sign up here. It’s free, and I promise to be brilliant!
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